A Way of Beauty


How do we restore and sustain
a Way of Beauty
in the world?

This is one of the foundational questions Angeles Arrien posed in the introduction to her book The Nine Muses: A Mythological Path to Creativity.

And ever since reading those words, I've been a little obsessed - with the idea, the underpinnings, the possibilities.

But   beauty   is such   a loaded   word.

What kind of beauty?

Is it as we find attributed to Lady Hamilton in Susan Sontag's novel The Volcano Lover?

Beauty which strokes itself with parted full lips, inviting the touch of others. Beauty which is generous and leans toward the admirer.

Is it as Shonagh Home reflects in Ix Chel Wisdom?

Rethinking our bodies as vessels of radiance, wisdom, and joy rather than something that needs constant improvement, returns us to our truth. And that truth exudes great beauty that emanates from our eyes, our smiles, and the way move. We are here to express this beauty, to share it with others, and to shower it upon the earth.

Or shall we consider the words of Camille Paglia in Sexual Personae?

Beauty is our weapon against nature; by it we make objects, giving them limit, symmetry, proportion. Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature.

Now this isn't a treatise on beauty.

Been there; done that; not entirely interested in doing it again.

What I am interested in, however, is the TENSION between raw and crafted, au naturel and haute couture, come-as-you-are and pretty-girl-rock.

I'm interested in how TRUTH gets unveiled, wrapped up, disentangled, distorted in the midst of it all.

And I'm interested in finding a happier medium with my own creative & interpersonal expression.

It's not enough to celebrate where beauty sings.

Let us look at and illuminate also where it stings.

// And lo,
the Melissae,
bee priestesses to the
( earth-moon-love )
Goddess,
gave not merely
honey... //

I commit to a certain kind of beauty in my writing. One woven from a very early age and reinforced over the years by effusive praise. One that easily lives up to traditional standards. One that impresses with its careful construction.

I'd like to call this "working class" beauty. It gets the job done. Job well done!

But at times, especially lately, I find it tedious in its routine and orderliness. Predictable. Surface. And unsavorily slowww.

So I experiment, at least, with structure -- fragments, parantheticals, font play -- and contemplate how to move toward more rawness, a different sort of palatability, deeper still, a musical quality to the tune of heart / earth / breath (which are ALWAYS beautiful).

Above all: truth. truth. truth.

Except when truth comes up against the gaze of others -- EYES -- the critical lens -- judgments that become convictions that become relationships (i.e., s/he loves me, s/he loves me not).

Better to commit to beauty where it's possible, and relatively easy. ON PAPER. Because being seen or heard in person didn't yield the same results. Not like the others.

I didn't come here to pretty-girl-rock --- despite "You could do the pretty girl thing." --- Jewel Mathieson: "We have come to be danced / not the pretty dance / not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance / but the claw our way back into the belly / of the sacred, sensual animal dance..." --- and coming to terms with this has not been easy -- in fact, I still struggle with it, only a sliver less than I did in my teens -- because the success & social influence of women continues to be tied up largely with physical appearance / sexual appeal.

(This is not a treatise on beauty.)

Consequently, where perhaps there may have lived a natural propensity for "beauty that is generous" -- as with flowers and sunsets and wild horses and crashing ocean waves -- is instead a tentative tenderness.

I aim to come as I am, to share what grows within & flows through me, to let the beauty emanate from my truth, but all the while tremble and/or filter and/or mask and/or retreat.

Of course, this also becomes a question of worth.

Am I good enough? Do I belong here? Does anybody want me or care about what I'm offering?

// Yes, honey. //

Beauty is necessarily relational. Restoring a way of beauty in the world, however, requires that we first restore a sense of beauty within ourselves.

Beauty that encompasses but also reaches beyond the visual. Beauty rooted in love, compassion, nurturance, understanding. The beauty of courage to speak an "ugly" truth or to follow one's heart instead of convention. The beauty of difference and diversity. The beauty of survival.

Furthermore, restoring a way of beauty means going a step further than appreciation of the places where beauty dwells, to creation of those spaces where it arises and can be found. Our art, our homes, our relationships, our careers, our entire lives can be odes to beauty.

Thus will Beauty speak to us, touch us on the inside, stir and soothe our parched spirits.